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Game 2: Wings not discouraged

by Staff Writer / Detroit Red Wings
 DETROIT (AP) -- Mike Babcock hears people talk about the importance of staying at an even keel.

Particularly, if you lose the opener in a playoff series as the Red Wings did against the San Jose Sharks.

Babcock doesn't buy it.

"I'm in this business because there's real highs and real lows," Detroit's coach said Friday. "That's what makes it exciting."

That being said, Babcock insisted San Jose's 2-0 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals didn't discourage him about his team's chances.

"I'm not jumping off any bridge," he said. "I think we have a real good team with a real good opportunity."

Detroit will play the Sharks on Saturday at home in Game 2 before the best-of-seven series shifts to San Jose.

The Sharks know their job is far from done.

"Their cages don't get rattled too easily," San Jose forward Bill Guerin said. "We have to realize it's only one game. We just have to stick with our game - blocking shots and not turning the puck over."

That was clearly a formula for success Thursday night.

The Sharks blocked 18 shots and had just five giveaways. The Wings only blocked one shot and turned the puck over 27 times.

"Detroit had the puck more than we did and obviously, we were determined to block shots," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "We didn't have many giveaways because we didn't have the puck."

Babcock shared a simple solution for San Jose's shot-blocking plan.

"If someone is in the shooting lane, you don't shoot it. You pass it around," he said. "We just have to see through the coverage, it's no different than a quarterback in football."

San Jose's Matt Carle scored on a one-timer midway through the first period in Game 1 and Mike Grier added a goal 24 seconds later on a slap shot from the slot.

Those are the types of quick-hitting plays the Sharks hope to generate against star goaltender Dominik Hasek.

"If he can't see it, he can't stop it," Wilson said.

The Wings plan to put more pressure on Evgeni Nabokov after his 34-save shutout.

"Hopefully, it's a lesson learned and we know what we're up against," Detroit forward Kirk Maltby said. "We need to create second and third chances by creating traffic around the net, and giving ourselves chances on rebounds."

The Wings missed Tomas Holmstrom's presence in front of the crease, particularly on their three power plays, and will be without him again. Holmstrom is out because he has blood on his eye and defenseman Brett Lebda also will be sidelined for Game 2 with an injured ankle. Both are day-to-day.

A simmering story in Detroit during the playoffs has been the startling sight of rows and rows of empty seats in upper-bowl sections, where every seat used to be filled with rabid fans.

The Red Wings haven't come close to selling out a game in any of their four playoff games this month and Thursday's announced crowd of 18,712 was the smallest this postseason.

Veteran Kris Draper said the Red Wings don't take it personally because they know fans have been hit hard by the state's sagging economy.

"You read the papers and you know the struggles that the automobile industry is going through," Draper said. "And anywhere you drive, you see a lot of houses for sale.

"When you look up in the stands, it's something I haven't seen before in the 14 years I've been here."

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